Use Spotlight for more than search

SpotlightNear the top of my list entitled  “if I had a dollar for everytime I…” is Spotlight – the little hourglass icon that started off as a blue dot in the top right hand screen in Tiger then was later promoted to a sleek grey icon in Lion and beyond.

No one seems to know its there. Every time I ask “Have tried Spotlight?” the answer is nearly always a resounding “No”

Spotlight. That whole of computer search that pre-dated Microsofts Windows Search in Vista by a good (and this is an old story) three years.

If you’ve never used Spotlight (don’t worry this is not the real point of the article but hear me out) it is very simple.

Click on the icon and start typing what you want to find on your Mac. the search can be the name of something or the text in something. For example, you are looking for a Word document about “great Macintosh service Technicians”. You cannot recall the NAME of the article but you know it has the word Renny in it. (sorry, couldn’t resist). Typing the word Renny will reveal every document, email (well, anything) with that word.



So this is all very well and good and perhaps you already knew you could do this. But what about the other things you can do with this clever little menu?

Well, for starters you can do maths (apologies to my American friends for adding the S” ) with the Spotlight menu.

Type 12+12 and the answer appears immediately. Type in / to divide, * to multiply or – to subtract.

spotlight adding up


Or, you can look up words like “Samsung” that gives you quick access to the built in Dictionary.


spotlight looking up a word


You can even use it to launch applications. Just type the first few letters of the application and up it comes. But, to be fair, this was pretty much superseded by LaunchPad when Apple finally got it right in Mountain Lion.

Spotlight launches an app

Or you can do a full web or wikipedia search right from your desktop.


spotlight doing a web search


All in all it is a very quiet achiever and even after nearly eight years I am still finding new ways to enjoy this little interface addition that never really gets noticed at parties.


Permanent link to this article:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.